Press Release OLAF/11/2000, 20 December 2000

Following reports in the Spanish media about suspicions of irregularities or fraud in the matter of the European subsidies paid for the production of flax, on 7 June 1999, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) contacted the appropriate Spanish authorities. Following this contact, the Spanish Fiscalia Anti-Corrupcion opened an inquiry in the matter.

In parallel with this national inquiry OLAF had opened his own administrative inquiry into this matter.

Yesterday, 19 December 2000, OLAF received a copy of the report containing the conclusions of the inquiry by the Spanish fiscalia Anti-Corrupcion in the matter. The preliminary OLAF findings already communicated to Spain reflect those now reported by the Fiscalia Anti-Corrupcion received in its final report.

The final OLAF report will be concluded as soon as final subsidy details and other data, recently received from FEGA (Spanish Agricultural Payment Agency), is analysed and compared with the elements found during the OLAF controls in the three Autonomous Communities of Extremadura, Castilla-La-Mancha and Castilla y Leon. These will be communicated to and discussed with the Spanish authorities and other Commission services concerned in due course. It is expected that this will occur early in the new year.

This press release has been prepared following numerous reports on the subject in the Spanish media in recent days which did not originate with OLAF. The press release is intended to clarify the matter from the OLAF perspective and to avoid possible misunderstandings.

OLAF wishes to make it clear that information obtained in the course of external investigations falling within the competence of the national judicial authorities is protected by the provisions relating to judicial secrecy.

It follows that any comment by OLAF about investigations covered by judicial secrecy of the judicial authorities of the Member States would be a breach of the law by the European Anti-fraud Office.

Mr Alessandro Butticé
Spokesman of the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF)
Tel : +32 (0)2 296.5425
Fax : +32 (0)2 299.8101

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